What is the significance of the title Animal Farm?

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The title of the novel is the name of the farm after the animals rebel against their human owner, Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones's farm is initially called Manor Farm, and the animals suffer under his oppressive rule. After old Major, the prize Middle White boar, holds an assembly where he encourages the animals to rebel against their oppressive owner, the animals revolt against Mr. Jones and take control of the farm. Following the Rebellion, the animals rename the estate Animal Farm, and Snowball teaches them the principles of Animalism, which promote equality and integrity. The renaming of the farm is significant because it illustrates the animals' control over their dominion and future. Initially, the animals organize and maintain the farm in peace. Unfortunately, Napoleon usurps power and begins to rule Animal Farm like a tyrant. By the end of the novel, conditions on the farm mirror Mr. Jones's oppressive rule, and Napoleon renames the estate back to its original title, Manor Farm.

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The title of the book and the changed name of the farm (it used to be Jones farm, I think, but check on that) is that the farm is actually run by animals.  A farm for animals, by animals is the premise under which the pigs work when they encourage the rebellion in their secret meeting. 

The animals, of course, are an allegory for men since the pigs who take over the running of things morph to look more and more like men--especially after they move into the house, begin sleeping in beds, and drinking alcohol just as they had seen their human masters do before the takeover.  At first, the name change signifies a unity among animals and is the crown of their success as a team.  Then as the pigs become more like despots and the animals realize they are worse off under the rule of the pigs than they were under the rule of man, it becomes more of a joke...it is not really a farm which signifies equality among all animals because "some animals are more equal than others".

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What is the historical significance of Animal Farm?

Aside from having literary significance as a great, canonical novel in the English language, Animal Farm is significant in that it reflects the unease and disillusionment many intellectuals on the left felt with events in the Soviet Union. Though the book was published after World War II, it was written as many, including democractic socialists like Orwell, were discovering the horrors of Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union. The animals' revolution, like that of the Bolsheviks, collapses into brutality and tyranny, betraying its founding ideals in a nightmare arguably worse than the society they overthrew. Animal Farm, along with the equally grim 1984, serves as a reminder that revolutions are doomed to fail if they do not respect the rights of individuals. Of course, it can be read as a simple barnyard fairy tale, but realizing the context in which it was written provides the reader with a deeper understanding of the work. Animal Farm is a far more powerful work if the reader realizes just what it is that Orwell is satirizing.

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How is the purpose of Animal Farm meaningful?

The original question had to be edited.  I think that one way in which Orwell's work is meaningful is that it reflects how dangerous governments can be.  Orwell's depiction of the leadership of the pigs is one in which the tenets of the revolution were embraced in their ascent to leadership.  Yet, once they had clearly assumed power, leaders like Napoleon and Squealer cast aside the revolutionary ideals and simply lived to exert and consolidate their power over the other animals.  This is meaningful in a couple of ways.  The first is that it has an obvious historical connection to the Russian Revolution.  The display of Napoleon's brutality is akin to Stalin's, forever reminding the reader that political control has a way of making something that theoretically had promise devolve into the most vile of political realities.  The other connection is the idea that all governments have the potential to abuse public trust in the name of substantiating their own power.  This has relevance and purpose to the modern setting, where political control and desire for more of it has resulted in some of the most heinous of actions.

Another reason why the central purpose of the novel is meaningful is that it calls attention to how citizens cannot be passive recipients in the modern political setting. Boxer is a beautiful character. He is noble, honorable, and decent, with impulses only designed for redemption.  However, his trust of Napoleon and his failure to effectively raise questions seals his doom.  Benjamin, a cynic who fails to see any need to take action, only realizes too late, when his best friend is being taken to his death, that the only way to stop government abuse is to speak out against it.  Clover recognizes the need to read and the need to be vigilant for so much in her mind does not seem right with it comes to the pigs' leadership.  In the end, Orwell is telling the reader that modern politics is a cut throat game for which citizens must be prepared. As Ralph Nader said it, "If you don't get turned out to politics, politics will turn on you."  For Orwell's work, one of the central purposes that proves to be meaningful is to ensure that individuals do get "turned on" to being politically aware.

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